I am almost five years old and it is my first day of Kindergarten. Some of the kids are clearly very sad to be here but I’m really excited. After reading many books and seeing television shows about school I know what to expect. I am going somewhere where I get to have someone teach me new things all day.
Up until now my mom has been my teacher. She would read to me as long as I wanted, reading my favourite stories the Little Golden Book collection over and over again. By the time I was two I was able to read a few of the words myself. By the time I was three, I was reading the stories back to her. When we weren’t reading, we were doing other things: I’d visit my mom’s “store”. This store only seemed to carry things from our kitchen. A kitchen sponge for a quarter, a can of creamed corn for a dime, a pack of Marlboro Lights for a half-dollar. She would give me coins she emptied from the stein where my dad put the change from his pockets at the end of the day. I would practice adding up prices and making change. Other times we would put together a puzzle of a map of the United States. Then, when that was done, I would close my eyes and she would take out a state and ask me to tell her which state was missing.
So I am delighted. My mom had to take time to do things like cook and clean and go grocery shopping. Now I would go somewhere that someone had a job which was “Teach us all new and interesting things all day” only stopping for us to all eat. This is truly a dream come true.
After a few days, though, I see that it isn’t quite what I’d imagined. We did learn a few things, and Mrs. McKnight, our teacher would read picture books to us. But there was a lot of time to just play indoors. Some of the kids would play together but I was excited to see that there was a whole section of the class with loads of new books I’d never seen and a comfy chair. And so, when the other kids would go to play with the dollhouse or blocks, I would go choose a book, make my way to the chair and sit down.
After a couple of weeks of this my parents tell me I won’t be going to school today because I have to go to the doctor. I’m not even sick so why are they keeping me out of school? We take a long drive to the hospital and I meet a nice old man who checks me out. He listens to my heart and breathing. He tests my reflexes with a hammer, weighs me and checks how tall I am. Then he does other tests like bouncing a tennis ball to me and asking me to catch it. I don’t do so well with this one. He bounces it to me and my hands clasp in front of where it should be or behind.
At the end of the visit, he sits down with my parents and tells them “He is a little uncoordinated but otherwise a healthy little boy.”
On the drive home my parents seem relieved and laugh as they try to explain what’s been going on. Earlier that week, Mrs. McKnight had called my mother extremely concerned because I was sitting in the corner for hours staring at books and, she said, “We haven’t even taught them to read yet. He just sits and stares at the books.” She didn’t believe my mother when she assured her I could read well and had been for years before school started. My parents said “She wanted to make sure you weren’t…um…slow.”
After that, I was still in Kindergarten for some of the day, but other times of the day I was taken to another classroom and given even more interesting things to learn. Board books were replaced with picture and then short chapter books. There was less time for playing with blocks, but I didn’t mind. There was more time to do math problems. I was finally getting the experience I wanted: Someone to teach me new things all day long.